The Arizona Cardinals didn’t have DeAndre Hopkins on the field for their final four games of the 2021 season, and now, it looks like they also won’t have him on the field to start the 2022 season.
The NFL announced on Monday that the Cardinals star receiver has been suspended six games for violating the the NFL’s policy on the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The suspension means that Hopkins will be out until mid-October. The ban will keep him off the field until at least Week 7 and it could keep him out until Week 8 if the Cards get a bye during the first six weeks of the season.
If the Cardinals knew this was coming, that would explain why they made the surprising trade for Marquise Brown during the draft. On the first night of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Cardinals sent the 23rd overall pick to Baltimore in exchange for Brown and the 100th overall pick that was later used to select defensive lineman Myjai Sanders out of Cincinnati.
The loss of Hopkins is a devastating one for a Cardinals’ offense that always seems to struggle when he’s out. In 2021, the Cards’ star receiver missed a total of seven games due to injury and in those games the Cardinals went just 3-4. To put that in perspective, Arizona went 8-2 in the 10 games that Hopkins played in last season.
Despite missing seven games in 2021 due to a knee injury and a separate hamstring injury, Hopkins still led the team with eight touchdown catches, which was three more than any other receiver. The 29-year-old, who turns 30 in June, also finished the season with 42 catches for 572 yards and eight touchdowns.
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The five-time Pro Bowler has been a huge part of the Cardinals offense since arriving in Arizona following a trade prior to the 2020 season. In his lone full season with the Cardinals, Hopkins caught 115 passes for 1407 yards. His receptions total in 2020 ranked second in the NFL while his yardage total ranked third that year.
With Hopkins out for the the first six games, that will turn up the heat on the Cardinals’ other receiver to produce. The Cardinals will need players like Hollywood Brown, A.J. Green and Rondale Moore to come up big while Hopkins is out. Another receiver, Andy Isabella, was reportedly on the trade block before the draft, but the Cardinals might change their minds about that now that Hopkins is out.
Arizona’s leading receiver from last season, Christian Kirk, is no longer on the team after signing a four-year deal with the Jaguars in March.
Despite the suspension, Hopkins is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and preseason games. The Cardinals will find out exactly which games Hopkins will be missing when the NFL schedule is released on May 12.